On May 13, 1876, the New York Mutuals turned the first known triple play.  It was, we believe, a 4-3-4 play. Yup, nutty people kept track of stuff like that, even back in 1876.

They don’t happen much. The Society for American Baseball Research has tallied just 699 major league triple plays since that first one.

Last night, #700.

Because, I’m told, no one watches Houston Astros games, #700 might have gone unnoticed.

altuve triple play

It’s a mighty pretty “around the horn” 5-4-3 triple play. It’s worth watching simply to see the magnificent Jose Altuve turning that play on second. Watch here.

The Astros went on to defeat the Detroit Tigers 3-2. It was the Astros first triple play since 2004.

The Pittsburgh Pirates also turned a triple play this season. On May 9, their triple play was the first 4-5-4 triple play in baseball history. Watch here.

While triple plays are rare, there have been only two seasons since 1876 that had no triple plays at all – 1961 and 1974. (If you think I went through all 700 triple plays one by one to find that single fact for you, you are correct.)

And, your Sunday bonus … the hidden ball trick!

In the semifinals of the Colorado Class 2A High School Baseball Championship on Saturday, the Rye High Thunderbolts executed a perfect hidden ball trick to end the game.

hidden ball rye  high

With two outs and the tying run on second in the ninth, the Thunderbolts pitcher fakes a high pick-off throw to second. The second baseman and outfield further the grift by pretending to hustle after the “errant throw.” The runner on second takes the bait and takes off. The pitcher runs over and tags him out with the ball still in his glove. Game over. Watch here.

“We weren’t real sure if it was going to work,” according to Rye Coach Stacey Graham. “We practice it quite a bit and we ran it one time successfully, and it worked again. It’s a tough play to do and the guys executed it real well.”

Rye High, a tiny school with just 225 students, won the game 9-8 and went on to win the state championship later that afternoon.

Free Baseball: Hoos, Ostriches & Vultures Edition

When the game is tied after nine, baseball goes to extra innings.  Free baseball!

Here are some extras that I have lying around …

10th INNING ~ Go Hoos!

If you’re shopping for baseball players, the first round of the Major League Draft was last night. Three members of the University of Virginia Cavaliers were chosen in the first round: Nick Howard, RHP (Cincinnati Reds), Derek Fisher, OF (Houston Astros), and Mike Papi, IF/OF (Cleveland Indians).

But, before heading off to their new paying jobs, there’s still this business with the College World Series to attend to. Good luck this weekend in your games against Maryland. Go Hoos!

Would the #1 ranked college team please put your glove in the air?

daniel pinero uva.jpg

Thank you, UVa Freshman SS Daniel Pinero.  (Hey Susie, he’s Canadian!)

(Watch the University of Virginia Cavaliers vs. the University of Maryland Terrapins Saturday and Sunday at noon, EDT on ESPN2. Game 3, if necessary, is Monday at 4 p.m.)


11th INNING ~ Ostriches

I thought it couldn’t be real. They call it an Ostrich Pillow, a napping, pillow-y, cave-like thing that makes you look kind of dead. It creeps me out and mesmerizes me all at the same time. It’s real … sweet apple cider, it’s real!

ostrich pillow

Orioles Fans, Is your starting pitching falling apart again and it’s only the second inning? Tuck into Ostrich Pillow!

NFL, Still refuse to acknowledge your ugly concussion crisis? Here, stick your head in!

Editor/Husband, Wondering how much longer this game can go on? Answer: MUCH longer. How about a half-inning snooze?

Endless meetings. Dinner party guests that just won’t leave. Mind-numbing political rants from the drunk uncle who gets all his news from Fox.

Ostrich Pillow.

ostrich pillow2

I’m so glad it’s real!

12th INNING ~ Keep Calm & Carrion

Buttercup is a black vulture that lives at the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

buttercup photo


Vultures – or buzzards as some people call them – are one of the world’s greatest recyclers. They eat the rotting meat of dead animal carcasses lying on roadsides and in fields that would otherwise spread disease and kill us all. Vultures are our great protectors.

Vultures are also misunderstood.

It is ok to dislike the New York Yankees because they upset the economics of baseball with their pocket-change millions. It is NOT ok to dislike vultures because they’re a bit wrinkley on the outside and like to fly around around in circles overhead looking for a snack.

(And, yes, they do pee on their legs sometimes, but really, who doesn’t?)

They are sociable creatures with amazing stomach enzymes. (I’m talking about the vultures here, not the Yankees.) Thousands of humans might go down, but a vulture would never succumb to food poisoning on a cruise ship.

Celebrate vultures and Buttercup with the Wildlife Center’s new “Spring Carrion” line of tee-shirts and tote bags. You’ll be helping a great organization and helping spread one of the best worst puns ever.

buttercup and raina

Buttercup and bag

(P.S. If you’re planning on using your Ostrich Pillow outdoors, please watch out for vultures.)

13th INNING ~ Yay!

Oh, how I love the hidden ball trick.  And, this is one of the best!

Florida vs. College of Charleston. May 30, 2014

Watch it here.

Isn’t college baseball grand?


Free Baseball: Dekes & Dogs Edition

Free Baseball – the extra innings that come when a game is tied after nine. Today, three extra innings. A beautiful deke from a high school pitcher, the furriest bat boy in baseball, and the simplicity of baseball among the Amish.

10th Inning ~ Deke Out!

I love a good deke. That’s when a player fakes out a base runner by pretending to have – or not have – the baseball. When an entire team is in on the ruse … even better!

With the game tied in the 7th, Pitcher Wyatt Short of Southaven High in Mississippi turns to pick off the runner on second. His throw sails into the outfield. Or does it?

Click here to watch.

11th Inning ~ Dog Days

Some historians say that baseball descended from the ancient games “One Old Cat” and “Two Old Cat.”  The Cat games used pitchers and batters just like baseball, so maybe?

It seems odd, though, that a game that may have evolved from a game of Cat could be so dog crazy.

Teams invite dogs to join their people at “Bark in the Park” games, offered by more than a dozen major league teams, as well as tons of minor league teams, every season.  (Here’s the 2013 list.)

stevie closeup

(Sadly for Stevie, baseball has no “Purrs In The Park” days.)

Being a fan is easy for a dog. Growl at the umpires, bark at every base runner, and sniff around under the seats for hotdog scraps. Really, how hard can it be?

But, put a dog to work at a game – now that’s something!

Chase the Golden Retriever has been the official “Bat Boy” of the Trenton Thunder (a Yankees’ Double A team) since 2002. Now 13, Chase is retiring and will fetch his final Thunder bat on July 5.

Chase Bat Dog

Click here for Chase’s story.

And, click here to watch him do his bat boy thing!

12th Inning ~ Baseball With The Amish

For baptized Amish adults, baseball is forbidden – sinful and unnecessary, like iPads, zippers, and central air.

But, for the young Amish, who have yet to be baptized and renounce their sinful ways, baseball is alive and well.

The Amish kids don’t know much about performance enhancing drugs, or All Star scandals, or million-dollar salaries. Their game is free of all that baggage. Just throw the ball, hit the ball, and find a way to get home.

Kent Russell wrote an interesting piece on baseball in Amish country for the The New Republic in March. Click here.

New Republic

We All Get Deked Now & Then

“Deke” is a cool, made-up baseball word.  The deke — short for “decoy” — is a play (or maybe it’s better called a “ploy”) that takes advantage of a baserunner who has either a) let his mind wander off, or b) has gotten “lost” during a play and assumed — wrongly — where the ball has gone.  Then, trying to just get back into the moment, he acts rashly, assuming where he hopes or thinks the ball is, rather than knowing where it truly is.  A crafty fielder can take advantage of that baserunner’s unfortunate momentary lapse.

I have my own version.  It’s the Yoga Deke.  I’ll get to that another time.  First, back to baseball …

In a well-executed deke, a player (usually an infielder, but occasionally an outfielder can get in on things), pretends he either has, or doesn’t have, the ball.  He tries to fool the baserunner.If an infielder pretends he has it in his glove — when it actually got past him and is now somewhere in the outfield — a baserunner can get confused, hold up for a precious moment, and lose his chance  to take an additional base.  If an infielder pretends he doesn’t have the ball — when actually he has hidden it in his glove — a baserunner might idly step off the bag and be tagged out.  Outfielders can pretend they cleanly caught a fly ball, when in fact they trapped the ball in the grass, so the play is still “live”.  Oh, the possibilities are endless!

My longtime baseball friend Jim Johnson, NTP (Not The Pitcher) reminds me that dekes can also lead to injury, if a baserunner slides aggressively into a base because he thinks he must avoid a tag.  He’s right on that count.  Although the argument is, of course, had the baserunner been paying attention … well, he would have known better.

(Why is it that when a player is deked, he feels the need to blame someone else for his lapse?)

Dekes don’t pan out very often — at least in the majors — because most players are paying attention and are fully aware of where the ball really is.  The deke only works if a baserunner has lost his present moment and starts acting on assumption rather than fact.

OK … here’s one that worked.   From just last week, the Reds vs. the Cubs, the Cubs’ Starlin Castro gets lost in the play and does a huge double-take when he thinks the 2nd baseman is fielding the ball for the “out”.  It comes up about midway through this clip at about the 1:30 mark.  Starlin Castro Gets Deked  (I kinda feel bad for the poor guy … )

I think we all lose our focus and then act on assumptions from time to time — in the name of efficiency or simplicity or impatience.  We space out in the middle of running our own bases.  Well, I do anyway.

Yoga and baseball remind us to be ever-present — right here, right now.  To stay in the present moment is to be fully aware and ever-ready.  We are more likely to act wisely and appropriately.  We are far less likely to fall for a deke.

And, we won’t end up like poor Starlin Castro, who clearly had one very deke’ing bad day.